Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Varicose Veins of the Pelvis

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is one of the causes of chronic pelvic pain, a condition very common in women. Approximately one third of all women will suffer from chronic pelvic pain at some point during their lifetime. 

What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Pelvic congestion syndrome is caused by problems with the veins in the pelvic area. (This is the lower part of your belly or abdomen). In some women, blood can build up inside of these veins. As the veins enlarge and change shape, like varicose veins, it can lead to the pain and other symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome. Hormones may also play a role as estrogen makes veins wider. 

Who is at risk for pelvic congestion syndrome?

You may have a higher risk for pelvic congestion syndrome if you have given birth to more than one child. You may also have a higher risk if other members of your family have it.

What are common symptoms?

  • Pelvic pain that lasts at least 6 months. 
  • Pain can start during or after a pregnancy. It may worsen after a later pregnancy.
  • Heavy or aching feeling, or sharp
  • Pain usually only on the left side. At times you may feel it on both sides. 
  • Pain is often worse at the end of the day.
  • Feeling a sudden need to urinate
  • Enlarged and distorted veins on the buttocks, external genitals (vulva), or thighs

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How is it treated?

Your physician may suggest starting with medicines.

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone drugs (block ovarian function and relieve pain)
  • Progestin hormone drugs (relieve pain)

If medications don't relieve your symptoms, a procedure may be advised to treat the condition.

  • Interventional radiology procedures to shut off damaged veins
  • Surgery to remove damaged veins
  • Surgery to remove your uterus and ovaries